STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Island’s new fast ferry service will be situated between the base of the Richmond County Bank Ballpark and Empire Outlets in St. George, the Advance has learned.
The Economic Development Corp. (EDC) vowed to begin the new service to and from Midtown Manhattan before the end of this year, however, an exact date has yet to be determined. The city initially announced plans for the new fast ferry route more than a year ago.
“I think we’ll have a lot more schedule certainty around when we think we’ll start after we get our permits, which we’re hoping is going to be spring or summer,” said Seth Myers, the EDC’s executive vice president, during a recent tour of the future ferry dock site.
Three boats currently under construction will service the route. Commuters are expected to pay $2.75 for the ride, which will take 18 minutes to get from St. George to Battery Park/Vesey Street, and then another 17 minutes to continue onto Midtown West at Pier 79/West 39th Street. Shuttle buses are expected to regularly pick up commuters from the West 39th Street stop.
The EDC said it anticipates the new route will be the second most popular in the NYC Ferry system after its East River route, and expects the Island to see 1.9 million annual trips.
As the city works to get the service up and running, Borough President James Oddo and Rep. Max Rose said they are working to turn the North Shore into a “ferry mecca” and secure an East Shore ferry, too.
A ROUTE TO BROOKLYN?
Oddo said he would like to see a route to Brooklyn that would connect the North Shore to Brooklyn’s existing South Brooklyn fast ferry route, which includes stops in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Atlantic Avenue and DUMBO.
He said he has been working with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a potential mayoral candidate, on the expansion. Adams said it would be a “missed connection” if the city does not look at additional ways to connect the boroughs.
Adams thinks connecting the two boroughs by ferry is something that could happen this year and he is open to where the connection, or multiple connections, could go.
“It would take a substantial amount of decades to build a tunnel under the waterway. It would take a long period of time to … add tracks onto the Verrazzano Bridge if that was feasible. Even to open and put bike lanes, all of this would take time. It would take little or no time to build out a dock, create a route for a ferry and to allow the system to be utilized,” Borough President Adams said.
EAST SHORE FERRY SERVICE?
Oddo and Rose said they want to bring ferry service to the Island’s East Shore. They hope the East Shore Seawall’s construction will allow a fast ferry to be built along that shore, a plan currently being studied by consultants.
“I want the EDC and the mayor to add us to an existing New York City ferry route,” Oddo said.
“Right now, let’s get this [North Shore route] up and running, let’s focus on adding us to the Brooklyn route. I think that’s the most tangible next achievement we can get in terms of fast ferry, all the while we go over the consultants’ report,” Oddo added.
WHAT ABOUT THE WEST AND SOUTH SHORES?
But Staten Islanders will likely not get fast ferry service routes along the West and South shores anytime soon.
When the fast ferry service expansion was announced last year, many South Shore residents were upset the city did not include the area in the plan. They were puzzled at why the city added a route already serviced by the Staten Island Ferry when they typically commute two hours or more to Midtown.
Asked if the South Shore was being considered for a future route, the EDC said it will continue to look at new locations, but noted its most recent study showed that the South Shore was not feasible due to low water depth and safety issues.
The mayor’s office declined to say whether de Blasio was considering fast ferry service to Brooklyn or the South Shore, only saying the administration “is always looking for additional ways to optimize and expand the system.”
The Coast Guard and EDC studied a potential West Shore fast ferry route, but concluded that ferry service there would be impossible due to the volume of tankers and shipping activity along the West Shore waterway.
Last year, the mayor said the door was still “open” to thinking about other fast ferry stops in the future and that come 2021, he would do another assessment to see if more fast ferry routes are needed around the city.